Story By: KYLE SOUZA / THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK – THOMPSON, CT – Some of the top local Late Model stars are expected on Wednesday when Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park roars back to life for the second time this season.
Although the special mid-week event will be headlined by the second round of the Outlaw Open Modified Series, with the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea worth $5,000 to the winner, the Late Models are one of five local divisions in action.
Competitors are set for a 25-lap feature in what will be a hotly contested battle. Some of the top drivers from the Icebreaker are expected back for another round. One of those drivers is Woody Pitkat, a multi-time Thompson Speedway champion who is no stranger to success over the last few years. Pitkat swept both races in the COVID-shortened 2020 season at the 0.625-mile oval, including the 50-lap World Series showdown where he took home $4,800 in purse and lap money.
In 2019, Pitkat came just a few laps from championship contention, but a wreck took him out of the race late. Over the last three years, he’s been the winningest driver in the tough division.
“We were dominant there with the car last year and the new tire this year for the Late Models has given us a little bit of a curveball,” Pitkat said. “But, everyone is in the same boat out there on the tires. We just have to continue to work on the car and get it better.”
Pitkat will be looking to advance from his fourth-place finish at the Icebreaker driving for Hartwell Motorsports, a team which has proven to be a successful combination. He’s expected to be joined by the likes of Nick Johnson, Mark Jenison, Shawn Monahan and Icebreaker winner Tom Carey III, among others. Carey is coming off his first career American-Canadian Tour triumph at White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday and will be carrying momentum.
Pitkat is hoping the adjustments the team made over the two-month break will help the speed in his entry.
“We had something good going at the Icebreaker during the heat race, but I got nervous and I asked my crew to change it a little bit and it didn’t work out,” Pitkat said. “What worked last year didn’t quite work this time around. Hopefully we have a good night and we can have a good finish.”
Pitkat is also one of several drivers who have declared Thompson Speedway their “home track” in the inaugural New England Late Model Challenge Cup. Brian Tagg, Ryan Morgan, Charles Bailey III, and others are chasing a $5,000 top prize for the Challenge Cup champion. Contingency prizes from Port City Racecars/Crazy Horse Racing, Five Star Race Car Bodes, and ARBodies are also on the line.
Outside of the Late Models, the Sunoco Modifieds return to competition with a 30-lap feature, while the Mini Stocks are set for a 15-lap contest. The SK Light Modifieds are set for 20 circuits, coming off their photo finish at the Icebreaker, while the always exciting Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsman will hit the track for 20 laps of their own.
Headlining the night is the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. Some of the top names in asphalt Modified racing are expected to visit the Connecticut oval. Names like Mike Christopher Jr., Matt Swanson, Jon McKennedy, Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams and others have already entered what should be a tight field of racers.
NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece, a two-time Thompson Speedway Modified champion, has entered both the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea and the July 7 Sam Adams Wicked Hazy IPA Spirit of 76. In local action, Rocco (Sunoco Modifieds), Carey (Late Models), Jared Roy (Mini Stocks) and Larry Barnett (Limited Sportsman) all look to back-up their victories at the Icebreaker and grab their second straight.
At the Icebreaker, Ron Silk won the debut of the Outlaw Open Modified Series in a 125-lap event. The Nutmeg State 75 is the second of six events, culminating with the $20,000-to-win Thompson 300 as part of the World Series of Speedway Racing on October 8-10.
All of Thompson’s Wednesday night races will be sponsored by Boston Beer Company and Hartford Distributing. The Wednesday schedule also includes races on July 7, August 11, and September 15.
Qualifying for the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea begins at 6:00pm on Wednesday, June 16 with features to follow. The pits for the June 16 program open at 2:00pm with practice set for 4:00-5:30pm. The main grandstands open at 3:30pm. All six divisions that are in action will compete in both qualifying and feature racing. The 75-lap, $5,000-to-win showdown for the Outlaw Open Modified Series will wrap up the night.
General admission is $30 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. and under.
Three More Sponsors Added for Thompson Oval Track Season
The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) have announced a trio of additional sponsors for the 2021 Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park season. O’Reilly Auto Parts, Vandi Auto Supply/NAPA Auto Parts, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation are all supporting the oval track series that continues with the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea on Wednesday, June 16.
O’Reilly Auto Parts is now the official sponsor of Thompson Speedway Victory Lane. Their banner will greet all drivers that triumph in the Outlaw Open Modified Series, the five local divisions, and the touring competitors at the World Series of Speedway Racing.
O’Reilly is one of the largest U.S. auto parts dealers with more than 5,600 stores across 47 states. Customers can also shop online at www.oreillyauto.com. The Missouri-based chain was founded in 1957 and now sells thousands of parts for both professional automotive technicians and DIY customers.
Another parts company, Vandi Auto Supply, has signed on as the title sponsor of the Limited Sportsman division. They are also providing a push truck for the track’s safety crew to help with clean-up when things go wrong for Thompson Speedway racers.
Vandi Auto Supply Inc. has five locations in Dudley, MA; Southbridge, MA; Brooklyn, CT; Plainfield, CT and Putnam, CT. As a locally-owned NAPA Auto Parts store, they carry all the company’s genuine parts and accessories along with other leading automotive brands. Each Vandi Auto Supply store is open seven days a week to serve auto professionals, DIYers, and everyday drivers.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) will hold two “Safety Nights” as part of the Wednesday summer series at Thompson Speedway. The exact dates are to-be-announced. Each event will promote the CTDOT’s Highway Safety/Drive Sober programs, encouraging auto racing fans to drive safely to and from the track.
The CTDOT is a state agency responsible for developing, managing, and maintaining public transportation systems in the state of Connecticut. This includes highways, mass transit, railroads, waterways, and most ports. Through the Office of Highway Safety, CTDOT also coordinates an assortment of initiatives to raise awareness for issues such as impaired driving and work zone safety.
“We’re happy to have these great new partners for our Thompson Speedway schedule,” ACT managing partner Cris Michaud said. “Everyone who drives or works on cars needs good parts, and safety is important both on and off the track. We look forward to working with these organizations in 2021 and hopefully for many more years.”
Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park takes the green again this Wednesday, June 16 at 6:00pm with the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea. The Outlaw Open Modified Series is racing for $5,000 to win as part of a six-division card that also includes the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsman, SK Light Modifieds, and Mini Stocks.